In honor of my favorite holiday, here’s what I’m thankful for this year, at least as far as golf is concerned:
Tiger’s return to relevance: I was happy to see this not because I’ve ever been that big a fan, but because I found the spectacle of people dancing on his grave to be pretty disturbing. Yes, he’s always been arrogant, and yes his off-course behavior was atrocious, but he’s hardly unique in either respect when it comes to elite athletes. And all those green jackets and trophies? He may have cheated on his wife, but he won those fair and square, unlike a certain cyclist–you know the one, the only guy in the sport that Americans can name. Schadenfreude is a lot like flatulence: just because we’re all prone to it doesn’t make it attractive.
Technology: When it comes to the digital world, I am a bit of a Luddite. But when it comes to the world of the dimpled ball, I’m in! I am thoroughly enjoying the new drivers and fairway woods, not to mention the assortment of new ball designs. It’s like plastic surgery for golfers. I may be getting older but I can still look mah-velous out there. My drives aren’t drooping prematurely. My approach shots are still crisp and firm. I don’t care if it’s not covered in my health plan: I’m buying whatever Drs. Calloway, Taylor and Ping are offering.
The game itself: I have two kinds of friends: those who golf and those who don’t. And in the immortal words of Mr. T. “I pity the fools”–and you guys know who you are. My non-golfing buddies aren’t inert coach potatoes. They all have exercise routines. But these tend towards the solitary, non-competitive, gym-centric sort of activities. There’s no game involved, no opportunities for insult and trash talking, no money on the line. Just reps, laps or the same old route.
A couple weekends ago I was putzing around the practice green when a threesome rolled up to the 10th tee and asked if I wanted to join them. I think the average age in this group was around 80, but there they were, giving each other shit, grumbling about each other handicaps, having a great time on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Sure they were playing octogenarian golf. This is a version of the sport in which competitors hit a series of shots until they are about fifty yards away from the green and then the real competition starts. It’s all about who can get up and down from there. But, really what choice do they have? It’s that or nothing. (Moral of the story: if you’re tired of hearing that it’s all the short game now, just wait. That’s going to be all that’s left!)
Anyway, I had a great time with them. It was both fun and inspirational. I can only hope that I can be like those guys (or Joan for that mater) and continue to be a playah for as long as I’m around. Thank you golf, for making that a possibility.